Thursday, May 1, 2008

A destructive primary battle?

I don't think the extended primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is destructive. Yeah, maybe it would be nice to have a candidate now, but is it really that bad? Maybe it's because I'm not particularly impressed or inspired by either one of them, but this campaign isn't making me think any less of them. We've seen that Obama can be nasty; that's no surprise because he's human.

Look at how it's benefited them: McCain is hardly in the news. Clinton and Obama have developed organizations in states they would have ignored until later, maybe forever. That's going to make the Democrats more competitive in November, no matter who the candidate is. And they're still getting lots of money, which means they're getting lots of donors whom the eventual nominee will be able to tap for the election. I just don't see it as being that much of a negative for them.

In fact, this is how the system is supposed to work; most people seem to have forgotten that. Do we really want most states' primaries to be exercises in rubber-stamping an already-established nomination? The Democratic establishment needs to stop attacking Hillary because that accepts the premise that an early nominee is better.

Instead, they need to turn this around and proclaim that the system is working. The candidates have been forced to develop sooner, so they're better for it. All the people are getting a say, not just the ones in New Hampshire or Iowa.

They ought to go out and say that this extended contest is the result of having two great candidates, and that the relatively easy contest on the Republican side reflects the paucity of qualified candidates. I don't believe either one Clinton or Obama is a great candidate, but that's what the Democrats should say.



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